There is hardly any tool that fits an average presenter’s objectives better than good old PowerPoint. It’s not that the industry has neglected to come up with something new. We’ve seen many attempts, yet nothing has left any tangible outcome or competitive advantage. With a roughly estimated 95% share of the market, the PowerPoint presentation leads the game and remains the key standard for conveying visually attractive information to your audience.
In this article, we’ll round up the top 7 benefits of using Microsoft PowerPoint in the field of e-Learning. How can it benefit educators’ and learners’ experience? How can you give your course a truly professional look? Read on to learn more.
1. Simple yet sophisticated
PowerPoint offers a plethora of features, effects and animations that no other presentation software can beat. It’s been quite a while since some caustic observer coined the “death by PowerPoint” expression. Picture a corporate meeting with yet another team lead or business trainer rolling out boring facts in an interminable series of tedious slides… Turns out, it doesn’t have to be that way. We are no longer condemned to click-and-read presentations that can definitely kill the fun of e-Learning or business initiatives. In order to create engaging interactive online courses, you just need to learn how to use the advanced options of the product. (Check out some general recommendations below.)
2. Scalable functionality
PowerPoint is a highly flexible solution that works seamlessly with dozens of third-party tools. Many of them are free, like the Office Mix plugin that helps you create and share interactive online videos. Gantt chart fans may consider Office Timeline, which allows you to add beautiful timelines and charts to your presentation right in the interface. These are just a couple of examples; a full list would be huge and, at that, far from exhaustive. New plugins are conceived every few months to facilitate or enrich rendered material.
3. Easy to convert, easy to share
You can easily convert a presentation into any popular format (video, HTML5 to embed on your website, Word document, PDF).
Why not turn your deck into a video file? A couple clicks – and you go live on YouTube. You could use third-party add-ons like Movavi or Wondershare, or convert the content right from the software (from version 2010 onwards). If you are looking for a more scalable format than PPT, try HTML5 or Flash. There is a host of free and paid converters available on the web. Find one with the appropriate quality, convert your slides, upload to a slide sharing/web hosting service, get a code generated, and there you go.
Save-as-PDF might be a good option as well. You can’t go wrong with this lightweight and universal format recognized by any modern device. Watch out for quality disruptions, though. Some of the visual bells and whistles, not to mention animations and transitions, will surely get lost. In some cases, like extended text editing needs or greater compatibility, you may want to reduce your content to a text document. Just export the slides into Microsoft Word, and possibly elaborate the bullets into a full-fledged article.
4. Reliable and always up-to-date
There is scarcely a PowerPoint user on the planet who has managed to use its each and every feature. 25 years on the market, 25 years of consistent improvement – this is definitely a standout in the Microsoft family. PowerPoint keeps up with modern requirements, integrates smoothly with popular web services and social media, and makes classy courses a reality if you know how to use it right.
5. The cornerstone of e-Learning
Educators and business users alike will find all the necessary tools to create a full-fledged course in PowerPoint. Many content authoring and e-Learning solutions build on the PPT platform to deliver extended functionality like quizzes, scoring, analytics and many others, but the core remains unaltered.
Be that as it may, all authoring tools replicate PPT functionality, in whole or in part, or even lack some features by contrast. Strictly speaking, you can construct your own e-Learning suite from PowerPoint bundled with standalone free tools.
6. Ample template library
A PPT template is a pattern of a slide or batch of slides that you can save as a .potx file. Templates include theme colors, fonts, effects, layouts, background styles, etc. Users have an opportunity to create custom templates, store, reuse and share them with fellow presenters. There is a vast library of free built-in templates. Pick a template that seems a good fit for your presentation or e-Learning course, add your content (keeping best practices in mind), and deliver to the public!
7. Easy access to guidelines and instructions
Need to perform a specific task? Would you like to consult external resources? There’s a bunch of information available on the web. You don’t have to waste time on in-depth research: just type in “PowerPoint guide” in Google, and receive an overwhelming amount of data. PowerPoint boasts a vibrant user community comprised of amateurs and professionals from all walks of life. Office.com, bloggers and presentation gurus are there to answer your questions and give recommendations at no cost. At the end of the day, we all love good content, and the more skilled PPT users out there, the merrier.
Tips and tricks
Here are some best practices that are worth following when you conceive a quality presentation or e-Learning course.
Design a “look” for the course. Use tools within the software to create shapes, gradients and more, to make your course feel unique and branded. Explore “Shapes” for creating your e-Learning design template and backgrounds. You can choose to fill shapes with textures, change transparency to create overlays, use them as menu bars, and so on.
Ensure easy navigation. It’s no secret PowerPoint allows learners to advance whenever they click the screen. That’s the hallmark of a classic presentation! Disabling this feature may actually do a lot of good, since you get more options for interactivity and custom navigation corresponding to your narrative or course logic.
Employ Slide Masters. Feel like giving your course a professional look and making it easier for learners to follow? Set up Slide Masters to ensure a consistent layout. You can also re-use layouts and forget about matching up colors or re-shaping positions every time you generate a new slide. Configure your Slide Masters from the very beginning, before you start handcrafting the e-Learning course. It’s a no-brainer, yet it pays off well in the future.
Interactivity is key. As we mentioned before, PowerPoint provides a wealth of animations and effects. This can be pretty much anything: quiz questions, text appearing on click, embedded objects, etc. Configure a desired object to animate when the learner clicks the slide. Make it fun and make it memorable!
Leave some space unfilled. Your presentation wants a whiff of fresh air. Don’t overcrowd the slides with too much text. This may seem like common knowledge, but it’s worth reiterating. If there is excessive content on the slide, chances are the learner will fail to process it and, ultimately, lose the key point. Stick to the message. A presentation is no monograph, it’s an interactive hassle-free way to transfer ideas.
Use custom PowerPoint themes. Despite what we said above about the blessing of ready-made templates, anyone familiar with PowerPoint or any Windows-based content will tell apart standard themes the instant they see them. This might give someone the feeling you didn’t go the extra mile to deliver a genuinely spectacular course. Make yourself stand out from the crowd and go beyond just changing theme colors. Get some professional designer help, if needed, to provide highly engaging and visually attractive content.
Like it or not, PowerPoint is here to stay. If you are short on time and resources, it may be the only e-Learning development software you have available. Considering that almost every authoring solution or learning management system can be traced back to PowerPoint and its powerful functionality, it’s safe to assume PowerPoint will remain the key power broker in e-Learning for years to come. As long as it has a clear roadmap and many options to tweak and tune, so be it!
That’s it for now. As always, I’d be happy to learn your opinions on the subject. The survey will just take a minute. Go for it!